Jehovah’s Witnesses And Military Service: Part 1

It is a well known fact to those who are familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses that they forbid military service. They even forbid non-combat military service which has been a suitable alternative to conscientious objectors for many decades in this country. While they can’t actually disfellowship someone for joining the military the Watchtower can and does disassociate them and treats them as if they were disfellowshipped. Apparently the illegality of discriminating against someone who chooses to serve their country in military service directly affects what the Watchtower will and won’t do to their members.

Isn’t it funny how Caesar’s law determines how the Watchtower will operate? If this is a command of God shouldn’t that take precedent over any governmental laws? It certainly did in the days of the early church.

Apparently the Watchtower will only make a stand when it affects the rank and file. If it affects the mother ship and her money then “new light” suddenly appears to the “seven old men in Brooklyn” and they change accordingly.

What do the Jehovah’s Witnesses use to justify their position? They will say that serving in the military violates the peaceful nature of a Christian and that Jesus stated that “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.”

Yet there isn’t one account in the bible of a Christian being told that they could not engage in military service period. Even the Roman Centurion Cornelius was converted to Christianity as was his whole household. (Acts 10) At no point in the scriptures was it stated that Cornelius was required to leave his military service or that he even left his military service to the Romans. As a matter of fact there isn’t one single scripture in the entire new testament that would indicate that this was a requirement of the early church whatsoever. Yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses doggedly hold to their man made teaching that military service is forbidden by God.

I was reading in my bible today in Luke regarding the preaching work of John the Baptist and thought the following scripture was quite interesting:

Luke 3:10-14

The crowds asked, “What should we do?”

John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”

He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”

“What should we do?” asked some soldiers.

John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

Did he say: “Abandon your military service.”? Nope. Did he say: “Wait until your commission expires and then leave your military service”? Nope. Did he say “Choose death over serving in the military.”? Nope. He told them to be “content with your pay” as soldiers. Interesting that if this was such a huge issue with God that he wouldn’t have said something like this isn’t it?

Why would the Watchtower forbid military service? Well let’s examine their true motivations. Obviously they hate anything that gets in the way of field service. Do you think that perhaps they don’t like any government taking their young people aka “worker bees” away to fight some war when they would do more “good” selling their magazines and books door to door?


I challenge any Jehovah’s Witness anywhere to bring me any proof found either in the New Testament or in the early church fathers accounts that proves that forbidding military service was a practice of the early church. Actually there are many accounts in the early church fathers of Christians serving in the Roman army so I already know the answer to my challenge.

Nope there isn’t a single shred of proof that this was the case then, and if it wasn’t the case then, it certainly isn’t now. Serving in the military, like blood transfusions, organ transplants and observing holidays, should be an issue of personal conscience and nothing more. If a Christian wants to serve either in the military or in a non-combat status it is their right to choose.

Paul said not to go “beyond the things written.” Yet here we are again finding yet another way that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society violates the rights of its adherents as well as the scriptures by “teaching commands of men as doctrine”.

Yours in Christ,

Doug Shields